Emotional abuse of children during and after divorce proceedings is one of the most insidious and common problems we hear about from co-parents who contact us via CoParenting101.org. Emotional abuse is generally more difficult to prove than physical abuse, and family court judges and lawyers who have seen it all know that such charges can be slippery and easily thrown around by divorcing parents, without merit. To some extent, they expect embattled divorcing parents to make damning but ultimately unfounded accusations against each other in an attempt to emerge as the better parent and "win" in the divorce. (This is why children's issues have no place in an arena that by definition seeks to identify a "win" and a "loser." But that's a different rant for a different day.) The result can be that accusations of emotional abuse are minimized, not thoroughly investigated, or dismissed outright.
So when accusations of emotional abuse do have merit, the parent making the charge may face an uphill battle to have his/her concerns about the children's well-being taken seriously.
Narcissists are amongst those who emotionally abuse children during and after divorce. Narcissism is "the personality trait of egotism, vanity, conceit, or simple selfishness." While Freud argued that "healthy narcissism" is essential to normal human development, high levels of narcissism are manifested pathologically as narcissistic personality disorder. While co-parents shouldn't invest themselves in trying to diagnose their exes, understanding their personality traits or potential disorders can be useful in learning how to deal with them constructively and in ways that benefit the children.